Hechinger takes closer look at pre-K in Idaho, and Idaho City

As one of only six states without state-funded pre-K, Idaho is always something of a poster child in the early education debate.

Recently, the New York-based Hechinger Report used Idaho City as a backdrop for an in-depth look at pre-K in Idaho.

The Idaho City story is well-documented. For years, the rural Basin School District has cobbled together a free pre-K program for all of its students, using federal Secure Rural School program dollars to pay the costs. Now, the district uses a voter-passed supplemental property tax levy to cover pre-K.

Districts such as Basin have to scramble to maintain a pre-K program, because the state does not fund early learning programs. While pre-K advocates had their chance to make presentations to the House and Senate education committees last month, no pre-K bill has surfaced this session.

Sen. Steven Thayn told Hechinger’s Lillian Mongeau that he has been working with Democrats and pre-K advocates on a bill that would provide $5 million for pre-K, while respecting the role of parents. The next step is to start “showing it around” to other lawmakers, Thayn, R-Emmett, told Mongeau.

Rep. Hy Kloc, the author of failed pre-K bills in past sessions, sounded philosophical. “If we could get someone to come down with a couple of tablets that say, ‘Teach early childhood education,’ that might work,” Kloc, D-Boise, told Mongeau.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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